Do Schools Really Need to Change?
Classic Musings Before Getting Started
Not only was last week’s class full of rich discussion, but the Discord chat has also been pretty active throughout the week. When reading through the many blog posts that my peers have been diligently writing over the past week, each post brought so many questions to my brain that I felt as if my head was spinning. I found myself thinking and rethinking and then thinking again. So many questions were swirling around, and I found myself having a tricky time writing my post because I kept restarting time and time again.
Even though I should be spending my opening paragraphs hooking the reader in hopes of continuing to read my usual lengthy posts, I think it’s important to outline some of the things around us that contribute to our writing for that week. As Dalton mentioned in last week’s post, sometimes it’s tricky just getting started. Or like Rae admitted to feeling like a social media virgin and feeling out of her comfort zone. I also appreciate reading Cymone’s post and how she feels that many of us can’t stand to feel bored, and want to pass time quickly. Or even Jeff who is so excited each and every week to learn something new that he can incorporate into his work. Realizations such as these are important for us to navigate our feelings, thoughts, and perspectives, and how those experiences shape our writing is truly remarkable. Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking… Ziegler, let’s get to the blog prompt for the week, please! Here we go…
Gritting My Teeth
I have to say that when I first read the blog prompts, I usually have a lot that I want to say right off the hop. However, this week, I found myself swirling a lot more than normal, not really sure what to pinpoint in my response. I also bounced from point to point, and back again. Frustration was definitely an understatement at this point. After I felt like throwing in the towel once again, I found myself reading Megan’s blog post for the second time. Although it wasn’t what I had planned to write on, it gave me the swift kick that I needed to brush off the dust and get to work.
This week we talked about the generational, cultural, and societal changes that may be ahead in our world of education. Considering this, do our schools need to change? I pondered this thought for a while and decided that our schools should always be in a constant state of renewal. Even though there are good pedagogical practices at play and changes that are slowly being made and implemented, there is still a lot of work that we need to do in our schools beyond the individual level.
Learning and Growing
There are a few things that I think we can keep doing, learning more about, and incorporating into our teaching practices to continue moving our schools forward in a quickly changing world.
- Using technology to enhance learning—technology is vital in a vastly growing educational system. Learning new tools to enhance learning is key to keeping students engaged, learning new skills, and as an avenue to show their learning. Continuing to keep in mind good pedagogies, and not using technology for the sake of using technology, is also key for teachers to keep in mind when planning for instruction and implementing educational technology and teaching tools. What may have worked with one group of kiddos, may not work with another, and staying on your toes with your tech toolbox is fundamental. If you want to learn more about good pedagogy and technology, check out one of my earlier posts here.
- Understanding learning—learning is different for everyone. From how we take in information, to processing and how we use that information is different for everyone. Understanding that learning looks and sounds different for everyone is key to understanding how that learner ticks. I always tell my kiddos that it’s not always about the final end result, but it’s about the process along the way and what we have learned while driving on the road to our destination. Incorporating different instructional approaches to fit individual learning styles is important to not only engage students but allow them to feel successful while learning.
- Exploration and creativity—getting students to explore when learning gets the imagination going. Giving students opportunities to showcase their creativity and explore their interests, fosters deeper level thinking and more authentic outcomes. Using Passion Projects, Genius Hour, or 20% time in the classroom helps foster the inquiry-based learning instructional approach. Is this something that can be thrown at the kids without teaching them how to do it? Absolutely not. It’s not a time to sit back and put your feet up on the desk and hope kids figure it out. Creating the steppingstones for this type of learning is key. However, just because one educator has implemented inquiry time into the teaching philosophies, does not mean that all educators are also doing that. Being aware that there needs to be balance is also important, especially forward-thinking for your kiddos in their upcoming years. In no way am I saying shy away from it, I am saying give students the skills they need to be successful in any classroom.
- Collaboration—showing students that teachers and staff in the building can work together models what teachers ask of their students. Not only does collaboration build stronger lessons and instructional practices (because two heads are usually better than one), it also is a good professional development practice to learn to work with someone else.
- Digital citizenship and literacy—Reading Leah T’s blog post, her comment (showcased aboved) shook me out of my Blunds.
Being a Grade 6 teacher, this comment just spoke to my heart. Teaching students how to be responsible digital citizens is fundamental. We cannot assume that students are coming to our classrooms with years of taught digital citizenship skills and know exactly how to conduct themselves and how to shape their digital footprints. Educators, divisions and our government-mandated curriculums need to do a better job of ensuring that these skills are being taught from an early age and being built on every single year.
- Learning together—today I had my kiddos dive right into their electricity unit with having no background information, besides the example of a clock, and had them work with a battery, wires, light bulbs, and a switch, along with five tasks that they had to figure out. Were they frustrated? Absolutely. Were most of the kiddos asking for help immediately? YUP! I challenge my students to problem solve, as this is a skill that I think we no longer explicitly teach (or maybe not near enough). I always tell students that problem-solving skills are critical because there won’t always be someone there to help them. This is something that absolutely infuriates many kiddos. Instant answers are what they are used to, feeling that uncomfortable feeling of being frustrated while figuring something out, is something that many of them are used to anymore.
Does that mean I never help them? No. That’s extreme for Grade 6. It means that I want them to try to use their problem-solving skills and their peers before coming to the source for answers. But in saying that, I think it’s super important to learn from the kiddos too. What they bring to the table is relevant, and their knowledge of the technology world and what’s hip and what’s not is better than my trying to keep up on the latest blogs and social media platforms. Just because kiddos are young, doesn’t mean they should be discredited solely on that factor. If you want to learn more about how to teach problem-solving skills, check out Hannah Boston’s post.
Like always, thanks for popping by and reading my blog post for this week! Although I struggled to write this post, I think there are a few good ideas that surfaced from it. It may not be in the perfect order or written as I originally anticipated, but we all have those moments in learning. This is just one of them. Feel free to respond to one or however many questions you so choose, leave a general comment, or like this post. I appreciate all of you for taking the time to stop in. Cheers to learning and growing.
1. Have you ever felt like you’ve hit an absolute roadblock? If so, how did you get through it without feeling utter despair?
2. What are your thoughts? Should schools adapt to fit our constantly changing world?
3. What’s one thing that you do as an educator that you wish more people would be doing?
4. Do you ever feel the imbalance between trying out all the new educational technology and teaching tools, and sometimes losing sight of good teaching pedagogy?
5. What are your thoughts on Passion Project, Genius Hour, or 20% Time? Have you used it before?